Beginning May 1st, 2008, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (UHPP) will be providing Gardasil# HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccinations for women ages 19-26 at their four health centers located in Albany, Hudson, Latham and Troy. Those women who live in Albany, Columbia, Greene or Rensselaer Counties and want to take advantage of this new services should call 1-800-230-PLAN to be connected to the nearest Planned Parenthood health center.
“This vaccination is extremely effective at protecting women against strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer,” noted UHPP President/CEO Patricia A. McGeown. “As a leading provider of cancer screening services for women of reproductive age, as well as a provider of testing and treatment services for sexually transmitted infections, we felt it was extremely important to provide this service and to help educate our patient population about the advantages of the vaccination.”
The Gardasil# vaccine is normally quite expensive and requires three separate inoculations over a period of six months. Pluviose explained that UHPP waited to provide the vaccination until provisions had been put in place to ensure price would not be an obstacle. “Thanks to new funding provided by the New York State Health Department, the approval of Medicaid coverage for the vaccine, and the establishment of the Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance Program, we can now be sure that any UHPP patient over 18 years, regardless of income or insurance coverage, will be able to take advantage of this vaccine.”
Almost 70% of UHPP patients are between the ages of 19 and 26 years, according to UHPP Vice President for Patient Services Dr. Christine Pluviose. In preparing to offer the vaccine, UHPP staff found that local primary care providers, including pediatricians and family practice physicians, were well educated about Gardasil# and already providing information and vaccines to those 18 years and younger. Merck, the manufacture of Gardasil#, has also focused marketing efforts on promoting the vaccination to younger teens, with the goal of immunizing young women before they become sexually active.
“ But protection against HPV is important for all women,” asserts Pluviose “and Gardasil# can significantly reduce a woman’s risk for cervical cancer and genital warts, even if she has already been sexually active. We believe it is important that women in their college and early employment years also understand that Gardasil# can be effective for them.”
There are many strains of HPV. An estimated 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and 50% of sexually active adults are expected to eventually contract HPV at some point in their lives. But most people with HPV show no signs or symptoms.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is a community-based non-profit organization providing advocacy, education and medical services for reproductive health care in the capital region since 1934. The agency provided health care services to 11,000 patients at health centers located in Albany, Columbia, Greene and Rensselaer Counties and presented over 500 education programs reaching over 7,000 youth and young adults in 2007. UHPP services are delivered with special concern for the underserved.